Blog by Rachael Edwards
Community Champions Project Manager & Volunteer Coordinator
As the crocuses and daffodils begin to bloom and the days grow longer, exploring Merton’s parks and green spaces is a great way to escape your flat or home office and reap the many health benefits of nature. To me, a green space is an oasis of calm amidst a hectic city life and Merton contains some of the most diverse and beautiful places in London. Whether you’re looking for a long ramble, a place to kick a football around, a beautiful picnic spot, or somewhere quiet to read and reflect, there is a green space for you!
Check out Merton Council’s website to find a green space near you. This website will also tell you all the amenities each green space offers so you can plan your day with confidence.
What are the benefits of spending time in nature?
Spending time in nature has been linked to numerous mental and physical wellbeing benefits. These include decreased blood pressure, reduced headaches, faster healing, reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, improved productivity, improved self-esteem, and improved overall wellbeing. Green spaces also offer a relaxing environment to spend time with friends and family, meet new people, and connect with your community. For some, green spaces also offer a place of spiritual enrichment
The benefits of nature are well recognized by healthcare professionals, and doctors are even prescribing time in nature through what are called Green Prescriptions (check out the NHS forest project to learn more).
So next time you’re going for a run, planning a gathering, or looking for somewhere new to spend time with your kids, take it outside!
Not sure what to do in a green space? We’ve got you covered!
There are endless ways that you can use green spaces in Merton no matter your interests. Here are just a few suggestions:
Get physical: walk/run, cycle, play tennis, use an outdoor gym, walk your dog
Get social: go on a picnic, play frisbee, visit a playpark with your kids, join a community garden
Get artsy: paint or draw, collect leaves for a collage, photograph nature
Interact with nature: go bird watching, pond dipping, fort building, or tree climbing
Take some me time: read a book, listen to music, meditate
Give back: volunteer for your local Friends Group or join a local litter pick
Attend an event: Keep an eye on the website of your local green space for their latest organized events and activities
Looking for something different? Here are some more creative and fun ideas for using green spaces:
Geocaching: Geocaching is essentially a giant, worldwide outdoor treasure hunt where you search for ‘caches’ using GPS apps on your phone. There are lots of caches in Merton to find! Start your adventure at www.geocaching.com
Park runs: Walk or run your way through these free, weekly 5km community events that take place Saturday mornings. Park Runs are positive, social events where you can meet new people and get active. Your closest event is the Wimbledon Common Park Run.
Foraging for blackberries: Merton is full of these tasty treats so why try foraging, then make yourself a delicious crumble for dessert.
Plogging: Love running and helping the planet? This is for you! Plogging (jogging + plucking), a trend that started in Sweden, involves jogging and picking up litter at the same time. Search #Plogging on Instagram to join in.
Nature-themed apps: There are plenty of apps that will help you quickly learn more about the nature around you, and take you on an adventure at the same time. The apps Seek and Nature Passport are a great place to start
Family scavenger hunt: “Gamify” outdoor exploration by treating your kids to a nature scavenger hunt with very little prep. Search “Nature Scavenger Hunt” on Pinterest for lots of printable ideas.
Instagram inspiration: What better backdrop is there than nature? Head to your local green space for your next Instagram shoot!